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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, April 28, 2003

Single guys out of luck in search for Honolulu apartment

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By Michael Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

A slow perusal of the fine print on my Public Storage agreement has confirmed that, sigh, I am not allowed to take up residence in my storage locker.

Which confirms a second fact.

I'm screwed.

I have just a smidge longer than two weeks left to find new digs for me and my two cats. The clock's a-tickin'. The day-at-a-glance pages are flying, "Prospero's Books" style.

In other years, this might not be a big deal. After all, it took me a total of one week to secure my last two places. But as a recent Advertiser story pointed out, it sucks to be a renter these days: Demand is up, supply is down and, accordingly, you'd be hard pressed to find a Roach Motel for less than $1,000 a month.

My landlord gave my upstairs neighbors and me what should have been an ample six-week notice, but finding a simple one-bedroom, one-bath, pets-allowed place in East Honolulu has been harder than I ever imagined.

I've come to the conclusion that in the million-sperm-for-one-egg competition that is the current Hawai'i rental market, bachelors with cats are the tailless defectives left swimming in circles.

Landlords I know tell me that they're wary of young, single males because such tenants tend to move frequently and are more likely (than, say, older married couples) to cause problems. Pets, they say, are frowned on because they leave scratch marks and fleas and bad smells. Or maybe it's the other way around.

Whatever it is, the search is not going well. With every call, I'm reminded that this is indeed a landlord's market.

Usually, I don't even get past the initial query.

One-year lease on a $900 studio with no utilities and no parking space? Not for me, thank you. Click.

First and last month's rents AND a security deposit? Don't think so. Click.

An extra $150 for the cats? Hmm. What? For each cat? Slam.

A few female buddies have tried to give me pointers on finessing the no-pets thing, but I don't think "smile" or "act helpless" or "flirt" really work well for me. Not that my current approach — clutching what's left of my thinning hair and swearing — is working any better.

If my fingers weren't so worn out from futilely calling all those property managers, I'd direct a centrally located digit at myself for not jumping on that priced-to-sell townhouse two years ago — the one that recently resold at an $80,000 profit.

Problem was I had a wicked case of homeowner anxiety. The cost! The commitment! The panties hanging in the shower! (Oops. Sorry. I got my anxieties crossed.)

So now I'm suffering a serious case of not-a-buyer's remorse, and wondering — like Audrey Hepburn and her unnamed cat in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" — whatever will become of us?

It's an odd feeling to be packing box after box of personal belongings with no idea of where you're going. And what about the big stuff? Should I give away that extra dining table? Will I have room for that bookshelf?

I'm almost tempted to rent out another storage space to better my chances of finding a place. Mind you, that agreement might exclude me, but it doesn't say anything about cats.